Pork Stories

Belle Isle gets $10M earmark from state budget

American Rescue Plan is source of the funds

An attraction at a popular park in the Detroit River is getting a $10 million boost from the state budget, courtesy of an earmark from the American Rescue Plan Act. The money will be spent on upgrading the heating and air conditioning system in the aquarium, one of several features at the state-operated Belle Isle Park. It’s the second $10 million project in recent years, complementing extensive renovation to the conservatory that’s adjacent to the aquarium. Much of that project is also funded through the American Rescue Plan Act.

The island park has seen several key changes in the last 20 years. The most significant may have resulted from the city of Detroit’s bankruptcy filing in 2013. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources took control of the park in 2014, when the park was in disrepair, as the Detroit Free Press recounted in a recent article.

Another change to the island was the arrival and later departure of the Detroit Grand Prix. The island hosted the race from 2012 through 2022, except for 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic caused organizers to cancel the event. The race moved to downtown Detroit in 2023. The move was a financial hit to the Belle Isle Conservancy, a nonprofit that supports the park. The Grand Prixmiere, a fundraising event associated with the race, accounted for roughly one-fourth of the nonprofit’s annual budget, according to Crain’s Detroit Business. The organization received only $134,000 from the fundraiser last year.

The conservancy had revenue of $4.66 million in 2022, according to Pro Publica. It had $4.56 million in expenses that year, $3.72 million in assets and $303,318 in liabilities. Employee compensation cost the organization $1.3 million.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.